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What Marketers Talk About When They Talk About Customer Experience.
By Incite Marketing and Communications
Thursday, 24th April 2014

The most frequently raised issue by marketers, the topic everyone seems to want to know most about, is customer experience; Specifically, how large companies can use increased knowledge of their customers to deliver a more relevant, engaging and useful experience for their current and prospective customers.
When marketers are asked to describe what customer experience means to them, they tend to mention three facets:
1. Fast
4Hoteliers Image Library
The Agile Marketing Cycle, courtesty of Flyte
'Doing things faster’ has long been a challenge for marketers. Once social media began its inexorable rise up the priority list, the need to respond to customer feedback quickly became ever more pressing.

Equally, with the plethora of new marketing channels you’re now responsible for (has anyone got a WhatsApp strategy?), deciding quickly whether to engage with, or ignore, a channel is becoming increasingly important.
However, the most important context in which ‘speed’ is mentioned is that of ‘agile marketing’.

What does ‘agile marketing’ mean? According to Gerry Murray at ICD, it’s

“A high-communication, low-documentation, rapid iteration process designed to provide more frequent, more relevant, and highly measurable, marketing programs.  Ultimately the goals are speed and innovation.”
Essentially, marketers are looking to ensure their campaigns and outreach is plugged in to the world around them – rather than simply conforming to a marketing plan defined months earlier. That means they need to turn data into actionable insight fast, they need to be able to react to events in the wider world quickly (hello JC Penney), and then need to be able to change up campaigns (following the Build>MeasureLearn> Lean Startup model) as quickly as is possible.
2. Seamless
4Hoteliers Image LibraryAs we advocate elsewhere, if a company is serious about customer experience, it must begin to evolve internal workflows and responsibilities. We’ve all heard about the CIO/CMO merger, but there are plenty of other candidates for co-operation.

The strategies and activities of Marketing and Communications executives are rapidly converging. In a world where customer reviews are more powerful than any number of TV spots, your customer service department is as important as your marketing team when it comes to marketing success.

And when the ‘voice of your company’ is no longer the preserve of Communications, but increasingly the voice of every employee, over every social network, HR teams have a role to play too.
This level of co-operation and co-ordination requires a radical shift in internal workflows and even departmental organisation. To deliver a seamless customer experience externally, those inter-departmental seams must begin to disappear internally too.
3. Personalized
Personalization is a challenge for three main reasons.

1. To deliver a truly relevant, personalized experience requires an exceptional CRM system, capable of taking data from many different customer touchpoints, synthesizing it, and then using it to deliver a level of personalization unimaginable just a few years ago.

2. Simply knowing a lot about a customer doesn’t automatically lead to relevant, engaging experiences for them. For that, it takes a marketing department who have tapped into that well of knowledge, and thought deeply about how to use it to provide online and offline experiences that speak directly to customer needs and priorities.

3. A company must navigate the ‘creepiness’ problem. It will be possible in the very near future for the Greeters in Wal Mart to welcome every customer by name – though the impact would probably be rather more negative than positive.
4Hoteliers Image LibraryWe’ve all heard the horror stories – parents discovering about a daughter’s pregnancy through a personalized pharmacy mailer and the like.

The revulsion at this marketing mistake came, in large part, from individuals who realized quite the level of information a company holds on them.
In a world where privacy and security are becoming huge issues for consumers, you need to think deeply about this.

And, with instances of large scale data theft on the rise, you should think of customer data not only as a powerful tool to be handled with respect, but as a precious resource that is to be protected.

Incite Marketing and Communications is committed to providing highly relevant, research-based insights for you, the marketing and communications professional. Through detailed analysis, industry benchmarks and revealing interviews, our purpose is to shed light on central challenges so you can succeed in an ever-evolving, fast-paced industry.

By tapping into our community of marcomms professionals, we find answers, build focused products and directly address your needs so you can effectively and efficiently problem solve.

In a world dominated by technology and controlled by the customer, Incite will help you seize opportunities, make faster, more informed decisions and keep you on the cutting edge of marketing and communications.

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